Englishman Paul West is living the Parisian dream, and doing his best not to annoy the French. But recently things have been going très wrong:
He's stuck in an apartment so small that he has to cut his baguettes in two to fit them in the kitchen.
His research into authentic French cuisine is about to cause a national strike - and it could be all his fault.
His Parisian business partner is determined to close their tea-room. And thinks that sexually harrassing his female employees is a basic human right.
And Paul's gorgeous ex-girlfriend seems to be stalking him.
Threatened with eviction, unemployment and bankrupcy, Paul realises that his personal merde factor is about to hit the fan...
Kathryn -3 Star
The Merde Factor is the latest in a series of books by Clarke about Paul West but this is the first one I have read. I wish I’d been following Paul from the start because in The Merde Factor he was a bit lacking in background for me, which would probably have been cleared up if I’d read the earlier books!
The Merde Factor was funny. I wasn’t bothered about the French words pushed into every other sentence as it gave me a proper sense of how an Englishman living in Paris might mix the two languages together. I also got a really solid re-education of French swear words and slang which was nice too! Being fluent (if rusty) in French probably made the story flow more easily but don’t let that discourage the non-French speaker because everything is explained and the constant translation actually make me find it more amusing.
It’s the language portion of the book that makes it the most amusing- that and the insane bureaucracies. The same insane rules and hoops to get anything done with a government branch can, I’m sure, be applied to any country with equal frustration and amusement. Just try and get a television hooked up in England and you’ll know that strange things (that REALLY ought to be simple) happen everywhere!
The book was funny and I enjoyed it and wanted to finish but the story in itself left a little something to be desired. Apart from a vague subplot about the importance of maintaining French culture while embracing others and Paul trying to take back control of his restaurant there wasn’t a lot to hold on to. Perhaps it was that I didn’t quite “get” Paul as I’d hope to or perhaps there wasn’t a lot to relate to if you hadn’t read his previous exploits? Either way I found the novel amusing but I was hoping for more- Clarke can obviously “do” funny so I’m inclined to go back to one of his first publications and get a real first impression.
Thank you to Century for our review copy. All opinions are our own.
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